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FERPA - FAQs for Students

FERPA FAQs Overview​​

FERPA – FAQs for Students


What are my rights under FERPA?


The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) affords an eligible student, in general, the following rights regarding your “education record”:

  • To inspect and review your record
  • To seek amendments to a record that you believe is incorrect
  • To control the disclosure of your record to others

How do I know if I am an eligible student?


You are an eligible student if you are currently enrolled at Bridgewater State University or if you previously attended BSU. FERPA does not apply to applicants who have been admitted but who have not yet attended.


Which educational records are covered under FERPA?

Education records are records that are directly related to you and are maintained by BSU or a party acting for or on behalf of the university.  Examples include grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, as well as your financial information and discipline files. 

The education record does not include:

  • Name​​
  • Hometown
  • College of school and major field of study
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight, height, and age of members of athletic teams
  • Dates of enrollment
  • Class level (i.e. Freshmen, Sophomore etc.)
  • Enrollment Status (full-time-part-time)
  • Peer graded papers

 Who has access to my record?

Under FERPA, a school may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from an eligible student’s education record to a third party without the written consent of the students. However, FERPA allows colleges and universities to classify part of the education record as directory information, and directory information may be disclosed without your written consent.


What is the difference between directory information and non-directory or personally identifiable information?


FERPA allows colleges and universities to classify part of the educational record as directory information. Typically, schools may disclose directory information without the written consent of the student. Additionally, as a state institution, BSU must comply with Freedom of Information requests and supply directory information when responding to those requests.


BSU has identified the following as directory information:

  • Information that is not recorded – that is, personal knowledge
  • Sole possession records (kept in the sole possession of the maker, used as a memory aid and not accessible or revealed to any other person).
  • Law enforcement records
  • Certain employment records
  • Treatment records
  • Alumni records
  • Certificates, degrees and awards received, including deans list and honors​

Non-directory or personally identifiable information is any education record not classified as directory information. Examples of non-directory information are: Social Security number, Student ID number, Grades, GPA, & Class schedule. This information is not generally released. The University may however under FERPA release such data to certain persons including: 

  • Official of the University with a legitimate educational interest
  • Officials of another school in which a student seeks to enroll
  • In compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
  • In connection with an emergency
  • If the student is in violation of the University’s drug or alcohol policy

Can I prevent the university from disclosing my directory information?


Yes, you can complete a request form and return it to the Registrar’s Office. It is important to note that with this restriction in place, BSU may not be able to verify degree or enrollment status nor publish awards received by the student. The restriction will remain in effect until the student submits a written request to have it revoked.


Can I authorize the university to speak to someone about my education record?


If you would like to authorize the university to speak with someone about your record (including non-directory information), you must complete the FERPA Authorization Form, clearly identifying the individual(s) as well as the specific information related to the education record that the university may release. It is important to know that completion of a FERPA release form does not require the university or its employees to disclose information. Disclosure is at the sole discretion of Bridgewater State University.


What do I need to do to review my education record?

If you wish to review your education record, submit a letter to the registrar making the request. The Registrar’s office has 45 days to make arrangements for you to review your records. It does not require that copies be provided. If you are unable to come to the university to review the records, the registrar may provide copies or make other arrangements for the review.


What if I find an error that I want to correct?

If you believe there is an error in your record, you should submit a written request to the registrar requesting that your record be amended, identifying the specific error and the correction that you believe should be made. If it is determined that the request cannot be made, you will be notified of your right to a hearing. If, as a result of the hearing, the decision remains not to amend the record, you have the right to insert a statement in the record setting forth your views. That statement will remain with the contested part of your record for as long as the record is maintained.


It is important to note, however, while the FERPA amendment procedure may be used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded, it may not be used to challenge a grade, an opinion or a substantive decision made by a school about a students.


How can I file a complaint of alleged failure to comply with FERPA?


If you believe that your rights under FERPA have been violated, you may file a complaint with the federal Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO). The complaint must contain specific allegations of fact giving reasonable cause to believe that a school violated FERPA, and it must be submitted to the FPCO with 180 days of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. Please see the FPCO contact website for more information.   


Further information regarding FERPA can be found at U.S. Department of Education website.​